Turkey protests skyrocketed energy prices

Main opposition CHP’s metropolitan mayors demanded special tariffs for energy consumption for municipal services stating that skyrocketed energy prices makes it “unbearable” for the municipalities to provide basic services. (Photo: CHP)

As Turkey-wide protests to the rising energy prices continue, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) metropolitan mayors issued a joint call to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government asking for exclusive energy tariffs for the municipalities.

Eleven CHP metropolitan mayors stated that the rising energy prices have become “unbearable” for the mayoralties to provide essential services such as transportation and water distribution in a statement on February 8.

The mayors demanded VAT and SCT exemption for the fuel used by the municipalities exclusive tariffs for natural gas and electricity costs used in public transportation and water distribution.

Gradual increase affected 6 million households

The opposition’s statement came after a new gradual price increase in electricity consumption was implemented at the beginning of the year. With the new tariff, the unit price for monthly consumption of 150 KWH was increased 52 percent and expenditures above that consumption level was increased by 125 percent.

As Electrical Engineers Association stated that the average consumption of a family of four in Turkey is 210 KWH for a month, more than 6 million households are thought to be affected by the 125 percent increase. In addition, many private corporations declared that the rise put their business in danger.

Receiving the first monthly bills, people hit the streets to protest the increase in at least ten cities in Turkey. Businesses struggling to pay their electricity bills hung banners showing their electricity bills on their windows. While some restaurants and cafes start to charge an opening fee, some restaurants and cafes charge a fee for the heater. Some restaurants began not to serve tea and coffee during peak hours.

The country’s inflation soared to 48 percent in January, raising the cost of living for Turkish people as the 50 percent rise to the minimum wage has already become void with the price hikes.

Alevi Associations will not pay electricity bills

Turkey’s Alevi religious minority decided not to pay electricity bills for the Cemevis (Alevi gathering and worship places).

Celal Fırat, Chairman of the Federation of Alevi Associations, announced on social media on February 8 that the Federation of Alevi Associations decided not to pay their electricity bills.

Fırat stated that Cemevis are places of worship and should be exempted from paying electricity bills like Churches or Synagogues.

“We want equal citizenship! Come and cut off our electricity. Our Cemevis are not business; they are a place of worship,” he posted.

“We want the same rights given to other places of worship in this country,” he added.

Presidency Spokesperson: energy bills will be regulated

Presidency spokesman İbrahim Kalın announced that the government would issue new regulations regarding electricity bills.

Answering questions on the television program he attended on February 7, Kalın said, “We will not let our citizens be victimized by inflation.”

“It is true that there is expensiveness electricity, that comes with the many changes and mobility in the international energy markets. New steps will be taken to improve this and alleviate the burden of the citizens in that sense,” he added.

“Our President has already announced this in his last address to the nation. The kilowatt-hour quota will be increased from 150 to 210. There has been a relative relief, but similar steps will come again,” he added.

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